the sick need a doctor.

28332_Cross_Shadow

I’m going to start by saying that I love and hate posts like this… because I feel like I’m calling people out, like I have it all together… but in reality any conviction or “calling out” is just me processing my thoughts about myself… because my righteousness truly is like filthy rags…

I just left from talking to a 21-year-old guy who has been on meth since he was 14. He is now sober for the longest time in his life, three months. He’s been in multiple rehab facilities. Every rehab facility he’s been in… he’s only counting down the days until he gets out. Three months ago he hit a tree at 65 miles an hour. He walked away with only a scratch on his arm. He has a daughter. All he has ever known is meth and that’s all he wants now. His sober days are not a struggle to maintain sobriety, but a small price to pay until he gets out.

Hanging out with this guy brings up so many questions that many of us don’t ever process. So… Do we believe that an addict can find Jesus to be greater than the next high? Do we believe in the power of Jesus to free someone from meth? I think we see lost people around us… and we’re hopeless… so we don’t even try to care or love them. We believe that Jesus can heal someone from an addiction to meth, but it probably won’t happen.

I’m thankful to know that Jesus came down in the pit with me to bring me out of it.

Because there are a lot of people walking around with the truth that are not willing to get dirty.

broken christians.

I had the blessing of getting to meet with a dear mentor and friend this morning before church. I was going to the 11am service, so we met during the previous service. We found each other and headed to a room to talk. Communion was about to be served, so all of the deacons were lined up with their trays in hand outside of the sanctuary doors. One of the deacons, with his tray of juice in hand, turned around and struck another deacon’s tray of juice with his! The innocent deacon’s tray still had all of the little cups in place, but the other tray was a complete mess. Both of their jaws dropped and they froze. The offending deacon said, “Oh, man! Did I get it on you?” The innocent deacon, with his hands up, looked at his shirt and said, “Uh… Yeah you got it on me!” I didn’t know what to do but laugh… and then I so clearly saw a snapshot of the church in that moment… Our formalities and facades are killing us! The formality and grandeur of the Lord’s Supper was just shattered before my eyes. The behind-the-scenes picture was not as pretty as the deacons streaming in with Jesus’ body and blood on silver trays. We put on a facade of perfection… “Come to Jesus and you will be perfect and no longer have any problems or struggles, just like me.” This is why people avoid the church… because they don’t belong in perfect-people church. We would rather keep up our image of perfection than, in humility and honesty, meet the lost and the broken where they are. People need to see broken people walking with Jesus. Not a Pharisee looking down on the tax collector and thanking God for not making him like that sinner.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

my man, Dan.

mymandan

I love it when Jesus opens my eyes to new things… Especially when it involves other people. Before Jesus found me, I hated people who were not like me… different religions… colors… football teams… nationalities. I am so thankful to Jesus that He’s taken that away from me.

So this story begins with me being tired and flat-out exhausted. I drove down the street after work to get some coffee with two great friends and then headed home.

As I was heading home I just prayed for some opportunity to love someone and speak the Gospel. My wife was out-of-town, so I wasn’t in a hurry to get home. I didn’t know how this would happen, I just prayed it and believed it.

Something clicked and I felt drawn to drive downtown… BUT the sun was setting and I was ready to head home and be lazy in front of the TV. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was lazy. I decided to turn into the local Hindu temple (bet not everybody can say that) to see if there was someone meandering in the parking lot that I might felt drawn to… Nope… But the sun was setting behind the temple as I passed it and it was a powerful moment of realization of the urgency I should have with sharing the Gospel.

So to downtown I headed. I literally felt a draw to go downtown… BUT the sun was going down quick and I was tired, so I pulled into the local sporting goods store. And I prayed for God to bring someone to me, because I didn’t have a clue how this was going to work. So, I walked around the store. As I was so nonchalantly wandering down the boating aisle, I saw an employee come around the corner. I thought to myself, “Nope. That’s not fair. He’s supposed to start a conversation with me.” And… well… he didn’t. He walked on by. HOW DARE HE not start a conversation with me so I could so awkwardly tell him about Jesus! So I walked past the guns, past the clothes, and straight out of the front door. I really didn’t want to go downtown.

BUT, I went… grumbling and singing along with some Christian hip-hop. I thought all about how tired I was and all the reasons why this was stupid. I was going to take the exit to head deep downtown but knew I was supposed to keep going straight. And there he was. Dan. He was standing on what I hear is the most profitable homeless person corner. I pulled in the far right lane and stopped at the red light (Well… I have conveniently left out of the story the part where I passed him by… I tend to always get it wrong on the first try). I motioned for him and he came jogging over. I asked if he had eaten dinner and if he wanted to get something to eat. He told me he hadn’t eaten and would love to eat, but that he was also trying to get money for a place to stay for the night. The light turned green and I told him to stay put. I thought to myself, “I’m about to bring this man to my home for the night… but then I’d have to bring him back… How would that work? What hotels are around here?” I stopped and Googled hotels. I figured if I offered this man a meal and a hotel room I could have a captive audience with which to share the Gospel.

So I pulled around behind a building, parked my car, and walked to Dan’s intersection. I told him I would get him something to eat and get him a hotel room for the night. I told him I just wanted to bless him because I had been blessed. I didn’t want to give him some fruit off of my possession tree… That’s not the ‘blessing’ I wanted to share. I wanted to love him, just like Jesus loved me when I didn’t deserve it and had nothing to give back. I mean… How demeaning is it for a man to stand on a corner and beg for money? All he wants is some food and a place to lay his head. But you see him up ahead and change lanes. You look at him like he’s going to hurt you… when all he wants is your spare change. How do I know this is true? Because I told him how I used to roll my windows up and lock my doors when I saw a homeless person. And how Jesus has flipped my life upside down. And he told me how it feels to stand there and be looked down upon… to see cars change lanes to avoid him… to be looked at like he’s going to hurt you…

Dan is 42 years old. He’s originally from Tennessee.

I asked what he wanted to eat. He said he didn’t care. When you’re in his place, food is food… he wasn’t picky. I asked his favorite food… if he could have anything, what would he have? McDonald’s. He told me to take him to get a couple of hamburgers and he would be more than happy. I took him to a sandwich shop and told him to order whatever he wanted.

I empathized with him. He told me how hard it was to be willing to work and not be able to find any. He had done some landscaping work, but his boss didn’t need his help anymore.

He said he calls his family now and then… they don’t know his situation… but he thinks it makes them feel better to know he’s still alive.

I shared the prodigal son. I told him how this man’s son asked for his part of the inheritance, left, and blew it all… on dope and ho’s (Just kidding!… but seriously). How he wasted it away and basically told his father that he wished he was dead. He gave his father every reason to hate him. But when the son showed up, the father threw a party and loved him. Dan told me about some bad stuff he had done when we was coming up… Things that he thought God would never forgive him for. He learned about repentance and asking for forgiveness. “Honest repentance,” he said, “Asking for forgiveness and turning the opposite direction.”

He told me how sometimes he prays for things and they don’t come. He said he doesn’t give up, but he always starts to give in. And he said that is always the point when God answers.

Dan, Jesus was in front of a group of people and he looked at them and said, “If your son asks you for a loaf of bread, which of you will give him a snake?” If they wouldn’t do that to their sons, then how much greater of gifts will the Father give to us? Look at the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, Dan. Look at how he takes care of them. He will take care of you. Dan, even if things don’t get better in this life, Jesus said the least will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. You will be royalty, Dan. Clothed in Jesus’ righteousness for all eternity.

I took him to the hotel to get a room. The girl behind the desk asked who was spending the night. I told her Dan was and she looked at him and said, “Keep the room clean and don’t trash it.” I thought to myself, “Oh, great. I’m so naïve. This dude’s gonna have everyone over and be smokin’ and drinkin’ and my credit card number is on the room.”

He hadn’t showered in a month. He sleeps wherever he can. He sleeps on the street, but most of the time he’s afraid to because he doesn’t know what will happen to him during the night. He’ll just get behind a building… and sleep.

We took his stuff into the room. He put his sandwich in the fridge. He was so excited and thankful to God, because he was going to get to give his girl half of the sandwich. This man was enthralled by a sandwich and this provision… and he was only going to get half of it. All of this food that we throw away and this man is excited over a sandwich.

People can bring you shoes. People can bring you clothes. Take you to buy some food. They can even give you the change out of their cup holder.
But you’re still stuck. You’re still who you are. The only possible way to be a man again is by adoption. The only way for you to not be who you are is for you to be completely removed from your situation and handed everything that you need for a new beginning. There’s no way you’ll ever have a car. There’s no way you’ll ever be able to get a job at your age. There’s no way to keep up any self-respect and dignity when every day you’re literally kicked to the curb. Your bed is the street. The only ones you talk to are the ones you beg for money. But they don’t want to talk.
You’re like a child in an orphanage. Your orphanage is the street.
You don’t have the ability to make it on your own. Someone has to take you… and clothe you… and provide for you… and meet your needs.
Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor. But is one meal for one man enough? We were adopted as sons of God. Why do we not adopt those who are broken like we were? Can we bring a man into our home… and feed him… and clothe him? Why not?

Does this man truly need these things? Does he really made a new pair of clothes? Does he really need a meal every day? Does he really need communication with another human being? While we cannot give these things for all the people around us, we have the means to fulfill their true need for Christ. He’s a good, good Father.

Jesus was a man.

Cross

One of my struggles is to remember that Jesus was a man who walked the earth and lived His life. The way I remind myself of such a basic truth is to make Jesus personal. This all probably sounds very fundamental, but I think a lot of people are missing this.

Let’s start with some Scripture:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped;
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8

Let’s think about this. I walk up to you and I say, “I’m the Son of God.” You’d either laugh at me or think, “He is out of his mind.” And then I say, “Come follow me.” You’d probably think to yourself, “Um… No thanks. I don’t follow crazy people.”

Ok. So now that we’ve established that I’m crazy, imagine some random dude walking up to you and saying, “I’m the Son of God.” You’d either laugh at him or think, “He is out of his mind.” And then he says, “Come follow me.” You’d probably think to yourself, “Um… No thanks. I don’t follow crazy people.” See a pattern here?

So you may be thinking, “Well since Jesus has already come, I have no reason to believe you or this random dude.” Well, ok. But why would you have believed Jesus?

“When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.'” Mark 3:21 Timeout. Jesus’ family just said, “He is out of his mind.” See a pattern here?

Does this make sense?
He was crazy (John 10:20). He was blasphemous (John 10:33). He was counter-cultural (Mark 2:17). He was miraculous (John 12:37). He was hanging out with “sinners” (Mark 2:15). He told the religious folks that the prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of them (Matt 21:31)! This is not the guy we invite to speak at our church.

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:10,11

It’s easy to look at the people around Jesus and wonder how they completely missed it. But if you can break Jesus down in this frame of mind, I would bet there would be a lot of Christians saying, “Wait. I’m following this guy? I’m trusting in what this guy said? I’m a ‘disciple’ of this guy? When did I agree to that?” (Matthew 7:21-23)

I have had so many guys tell me that they have always been a Christian or have always believed in God. If that’s you, I’d like to stop you right here — You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder (James 2:19). If a belief in God leads to salvation, the demons are more saved than most of us – because they actually know the character of God to the point that they shudder.

We have separated Jesus from God. Everyone says “God bless you” when you sneeze and “God bless America” on the 4th of July. Change that to “Jesus” and you will get some strange looks. A belief in God is culturally acceptable. What makes a person crazy is when they claim that Jesus the Christ is this God.

Is casual faith acceptable? Can you believe in the Jesus of the Bible and still fit into this world? I think we’ve missed it, because Jesus didn’t come begging for you to ask Him into your heart. He came offering His righteousness in exchange for every ounce of your being. You can’t claim to follow Jesus and still be of this world. You just can’t. Jesus said some pretty crazy stuff that doesn’t exactly increase our comfort and definitely doesn’t sit well with the world.

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” (2 Timothy 3:12). This is the one thing that moved me from a belief in God to following Jesus (the topic of suffering to be exact, as I heard it taught in Secret Church: The Cross and Suffering).

If you are a truly a Christian… you are crazy… so live like it. You’re placing your faith in a man who walked the earth and claimed to be the Son of God. You’re not normal. Quit trying to fit into this world… because you can’t.

my heaven song

You wrote a letter and You signed your name
I read every word of it page by page
You said that You’d be coming, coming for me soon
Oh my God I’ll be ready for You

I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
In the misty morning chill
And my soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing my heaven song

I hear Your voice and I catch my breath
‘Well done my child, enter in and rest’
Tears of joy roll down my cheek
It’s beautiful beyond my wildest dreams

I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
In the misty morning chill
And my soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing…

I want to run on greener pastures
I want to dance on higher hills
I want to drink from sweeter waters
In the misty morning chill
And my soul is getting restless
For the place where I belong
I can’t wait to join the angels and sing
No, I cant wait to join the angels and sing my heaven song

Phil Wickham – Heaven Song




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